The term “stress” was coined by Hans Seyle, and defines as non specific response of the body and mind to any demand, and adaptation to challenge. This physiological and psychological response is called general adaptation syndrome.
There have been various models that explain the role of stress in the development of an illness.
Due to the constant hassles of daily living and work in the form of ongoing interpersonal difficulties, persistent threat to security, financial deprivation, and other life events (stress, distress) have acted as triggering effect on the illness. This has precipitated the illness at an early age, a concept known as “brought forward time”
Stress strains the coping mechanism resulting in sequences of internal changes, which are outwardly expressed as illness. The “crisis theory” as proposed by Lindermann and Sating states that stress produces disequilibrium (crisis) resulting in either adaptative changes or maladaptive changes (emotional and physical illness).
The cybernetic model by Kagan and Levi suggests that there is a two-way interaction between psychosocial stress and psychobiological program which determines the physiological and psychological reaction leading to precursor of disease. Yoga has been found to be efficacious in resolving this stress by enhancing the internal power, rather than banking on the chemical agents.
It delays the expression of illness. It must be emphasized here that yoga is not a substitute to pharmacological intervention in acute cases, rather has an augmenting and supplementing therapeutic effect with pharmacotherapy in illness.
- What prevents you from achieving at a higher level?
- Lack of confidence in public speaking?
- Anxiety, panic or a phobia?
- Feelings of fear, greed, anger, depression, sadness, guilt, frustration, jealousy, hurt, resentment, stress or other?
- Difficulty influencing others towards agreements?
- Concept of what you are worth financially?
- Burnt out?
- Slumps in performance?
- Substance abuse?
- Your value system?
- How to achieve success at the highest level?
- How will this program help you?
A study on meditation in the workplace showed that meditation:
- Increased effectiveness in the work place.
- Reduced anxiety, work stress, insomnia and tiredness.
- Reduced cigarette smoking and alcohol intake.
- Increased job satisfaction.
- It reorganizes your energy and vital force.
- Heightens resistance to common diseases (viral infections).
- Pranayam and meditation is known to boost your immune system.
- Gain control of your emotions and mind.
- Regularity and punctuality.
- Better understanding in family and social life.
- Increases memory.
- Enhances Virtues like straight forwardness, generosity, honesty and productivity.
- Managing negative emotions/feelings means an individual can achieve success at a higher level and an organization can perform closer to peak efficiency. The bottom line is increased job satisfaction and bigger profits.
- Awakening our original consciousness.
- Experiencing great peace and supreme knowledge.
- Strengthen and recondition your entire body.
- Meditation has been known to be effective in reversing heart disease, dealing with negative emotions, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, diminishing anxiety, stopping smoking, weight loss, eating disorders, addictions, boosting the immune system, and improving sports performance.
- Regain youthful flexibility in spine and limbs.
- Asanas (physical postures) have shown to improve the flexibility of the spine and help in the mobility of the joints.
- Redistribute weight.
Illness and Yoga
In patients with anxiety, there is an increased level of catecholamine, particularly norepinephrine and epinephrine. Patients performing transcendental meditation had stable levels of catecholamine. This in turn regulated the sympatho-adrenenal medulla system, resulting in stable blood pressure (Infante, 2001).
Meditation has shown to be beneficial in sleep related problems.
Transcendental meditation: A double-edged sword in epilepsy: Transcendental Meditation is derived from ancient yogic teachings. Both short- and long-term physiological correlates of TM practice have been studied. EEG effects include increased alpha, theta, and gamma frequencies and increased coherence and synchrony. Neuronal hyper synchrony is a cardinal feature of epilepsy, and subjective psychic symptoms, apnoea, and myoclonic jerking are characteristic of both epileptic seizures. Clinical studies of similar techniques suggest that meditation has a potential antiepileptic therapy.
In various studies, it has been suggested that behavioural phenomena have an underlying epileptic basis, and the potential efficacy for seizure reduction may translate into improved quality of life. However, more understanding is warranted by clinical trials before a blanket statement regarding the efficacy in seizure disorder is made (Yardi, 2000).
4) Smoking and Alcohol dependence: Substance Dependence
A study by Bowen et al. (2007), in a population of alcohol dependent explored the role of Vipassana, a mindfulness meditation practice emphasizes acceptance rather than suppression of unwanted thoughts. They concluded that Vipassana was effective in reduction in substance use as compared to controls. This was achieved as Vipassana meditation course volunteers reported greater reduction in attempts to avoid unwanted thoughts.
In a study by Frankel (1998), in patients with psoriasis found that meditation helped as an adjuvant therapy. The rate of recovery of plaques was 3.8 times faster in the meditation group as compared to control, this was achieved in as little as four weeks time.
6) Chronic back pain
Back pain is an significant public health problem globally and is the most commonly reported reason for use of complimentary alternative medicine particularly yoga. Asthnga yoga and Iyengar yoga, have been found to be efficacious in patients with low back pain. Iyenger yoga has derived from Asthanga yoga, which consists of eight limbs including morale injunctions, rules for personal conduct, posture, breath control, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation and self realization (Williams, 2005). Krusen, known as one of the early fathers of physical medicine, has credited yoga posture exercises as a means to correct spinal slumping, and thereby improve the respiratory capacity. Stretching of muscles, which produce propioceptive stimulation thereby relaxing muscle tension and restoring optimal muscle tone and posture
Depression is among the five most common disorders seen in primary care. Disability caused by depressive disorder rivals that of coronary artery disease and is greater than disability caused by chronic lung disease and osteoarthritis according to medical outcome study. Cost of depressive disorders in terms of treatment, missed work and loss of function is 43 billion US dollars annually. There have been various studies that have shown to be efficacious as an adjuvant therapy in patients with depressive disorder. (Pilkington et. al., 2005)
8) Psychosomatic disorders
The above-described paths of yoga help the individual in integrating the personality and steadying the mind by changing the attitude and motivation, by developing health and correct habits and by modifying priorities and values of life.
Breathing exercises help in bio-energy control, which then stabilizes emotional upheaval of illness. Yoga Asanas manipulate nervous system and divert body energy to establish the equilibrium of physical, mental and spiritual aspect of the individual’s life. Yoga hygiene not only removes the habit of unhealthy nutrition, but also establishes homeostatic balance. Somatic symptoms evolve due to fault in psychic energy distribution as explained in psychology. Yoga helps in re-channeling the psychic energy (Singh, 2006).
9) Perimenopause/ Menopause
Restorative yoga for treatment of hot flushes has been found to be effective as there was a significant decrease in mean number of hot flushes by 34% from baseline after 8 weeks of intervention. It has no adverse effects and has been suggested to be efficacious in middle-aged women (Cohen, 2007; Khalsa, 2004)
10) Carpal-tunnel syndrome
Yoga in treatment of carpal-tunnel syndrome (Winston, 1999) : Carpel tunnel syndrome is compressive neuropathy of the medial nerve in the carpel tunnel, its more common in women than men, as women have smaller carpel bone, hence less space to accommodate the nerve of similar diameter. With the extensive use of computer keyboard, the wrong posture has led to an increase in the number of new cases in the recent past. In a randomized control trial, it has been shown that eight weeks of Yoga has been found to be beneficial. There was significant reduction in the pain, and better grip strength (Sequeira, 1999).
Similar to breast cancer, studies of people with prostate cancer suggest that melatonin levels are lower compared to men without cancer, and test tube studies have found that melatonin inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells. Meditation is a valuable addition to the treatment of prostate cancer. The positive effects of meditation may be due to a rise in levels of melatonin in the body.
With the practice of asanas and meditation one can achieve weight loss to a greater degree in a short span of time. Weight can be reduced faster then most diets.
Caring for our body
Man has unconsciously tried to be forever young. Man has adopted various methods to achieve this goal, which has been futile and vain to a larger extent. They forget that use of revitalizing lotions or toners to erase the wrinkles is not sufficient. Pharmacological and other toxic substances (viz Botox- Botulin for wrinkles) would not help, to attain youthfulness, vigor and vitality. Yoga and meditation is suggested here, which is devoid of side effects and has lasting effect. (Infant, 2001; Travis, 1999;Travis,2001).
It enhances flexibility, regulates blood circulation, toning muscles, and redistributing body mass and enhances alertness and clarity of faculties of mind.
Yoga is a divine science, taking the mankind on the path of positive thinking. Its basis is banked on the homeostasis of all the systems as proposed by George Engel. The learned saints of ancient India discovered this process. Yoga is complete in every aspect as it touches the every sphere of human life. It is a complete science that provides a healthy lifestyle and a complete preventive medication system. Above all, it is an enlightening spiritual art. Saint Patanjali brought Yoga 5000 years ago, in a disciplined manner to preserve and produce the eight yogic practices in the form of Yoga Sutra.
Moreover, the popularity of Yoga lies in the fact that it has never bounded itself within the narrow-minded attitude of sex, community, area, religion, caste, and language.